The Victoria Cross (VC) was awarded to 153 members of the British Indian Army and civilians under its command, from 1857 until independence in 1947. The Victoria Cross is a military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of armed forces of some Commonwealth countries and previous British Empire territories. It takes precedence over all other Orders, decorations and medals. It may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service and to civilians under military command. The VC is traditionally presented to the recipient by the British monarch during an investiture at Buckingham Palace, though in a large number of cases this was not possible and it was presented in the field by a prominent civil or military official. The VC was introduced in Great Britain on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria to reward acts of valour during the Crimean War.
Indian troops were not originally eligible for the VC, because since 1837 they had been eligible for the Indian Order of Merit—the oldest British gallantry award for general issue. When the VC was created, Indian troops were still controlled by the British East India Company, and did not come under Crown control until 1860. European officers and men serving with the East India Company were not eligible for the Indian Order of Merit; the VC was extended to cover them in October 1857. It was only at the end of the 19th century that calls for Indian troops to be awarded the VC intensified. Indian troops became eligible for the award in 1911. The first awards to Indian troops appeared in the London Gazette on 7 December 1914 to Darwan Singh Negi and Khudadad Khan. Negi was presented with the VC by King George V two days earlier, on 5 December 1914, during a visit to troops in France. He is one of a small number of soldiers presented with his award before it appeared in the London Gazette.
There have been a total of 148 VC recipients who were serving with an Indian Army or Honourable East India Company (HEIC) unit. 63 VCs were awarded to British officers and men of the HEIC during the Anglo-Persian War (1856–1857) and the Indian Rebellion of 1857. 33 VCs were awarded for action in various campaigns between the rebellion in 1857 and the First World War. 18 VCs were awarded for action in the First World War, and 30 in the Second World War. In addition to these, 5 civilians under military command were awarded the VC.
This along with the *, indicates that the Victoria Cross was awarded posthumously.
- Ashcroft, M, preface; XI–XIII
- Parker 2005, p. 62.
- "No. 28999". The London Gazette. 4 December 1914. p. 10425.
- Crook, MJ, Chapter 11. pp 117–125
- Probyn was awarded his VC for numerous gallant acts throughout the period of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
"No. 22154". The London Gazette. 18 June 1858. p. 2960.
- "4th Gorkha Rifles page on www.britishempire.co.uk". Retrieved 21 March 2009.
- "Victoria Cross Registers". National Archives (UK). Retrieved 11 April 2008.
- "Honourable East India Company and Indian Army holders of the Victoria Cross". VictoriaCross.org. Retrieved 11 April 2008.
- Ashcroft, Michael (2006). Victoria Cross Heroes. Headline Book Publishing. ISBN 0-7553-1632-0.
- Crook, M.J. (1975). The Evolution of the Victoria Cross. Midas books. ISBN 0-85936-041-5.
- Parker, John (2005). The Gurkhas: The Inside Story of the World's Most Feared Soldiers. Headline Book Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7553-1415-7.